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EXCLUSIVE: New J.D. Vance Bill Would Reveal True Expense of Biden’s Ukraine War

Sen. Vance’s bill calls for “a detailed accounting of all United States government-wide expenditures for Ukraine and countries impacted by the situation in Ukraine since February 24, 2022.”

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(By lef radin/Shutterstock)

How much money has the United States actually spent supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia? It is quite possibly the most basic and pressing question surrounding America’s continued involvement in the war; yet the Biden administration continues to be cagey with the answer. Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio hopes to fix that through a new piece of legislation that will be introduced on Monday afternoon.

The bill, named the Ukraine Aid Transparency Act of 2024, seeks to demystify the current and future cost of Ukraine aid to the American taxpayer by changing reporting requirements in the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in December 2023. While the FY24 NDAA required a report from the administration on U.S. assistance to Ukraine, its language would have allowed the administration to leave out key pieces of information. Not only would the legislation compel the Biden administration into providing Congress with a real dollar value of Ukraine aid—which could currently be undervalued to the tune of billions of dollars—it would reveal how much aid the U.S. has given to other nations in the pursuit of supporting Ukraine while juxtaposing America's price tag to that of our allies.

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“The American people deserve a full and honest accounting of the tax dollars we’ve sent to Ukraine. Biden administration officials have spent years trying to hide the ball on Ukraine spending. As a result, we still don’t know how much U.S. aid to Ukraine will end up costing Americans, how much the Europeans have actually contributed, and more,” Vance told The American Conservative. “This bill is an important step towards ensuring Americans receive the information that Joe Biden owes them.”

The bill’s text, provided to TAC, calls for “a detailed accounting of all United States government-wide expenditures for Ukraine and countries impacted by the situation in Ukraine since February 24, 2022.” The Biden administration would also have to disclose the amount of aid it has yet to execute and provide “a detailed accounting of any outstanding or anticipated costs to be incurred by the United States in relation to United States assistance for Ukraine and countries impacted by the situation in Ukraine.” These “anticipated costs” include replenishing America’s stockpiles of weapons and munitions.

Replenishing America’s stockpiles, which will likely take years, is an increasingly expensive proposition due to increasing variable costs associated with defense acquisition and production. A substantial amount of U.S. aid to Ukraine has been provided through gifts of equipment from the Department of Defense’s stocks through presidential drawdown authority (PDA). Because replacement costs are much higher for new equipment to replace the old (likely $1.5-2 dollars in replenishment money for every $1 dollar of PDA aid), there is a deficit between the amount of Ukraine aid disbursed via PDA and reinvestment in America’s stockpiles. That deficit represents additional American expenditures on Ukraine—eventually, stocks have to be replenished to their pre-drawdown levels. Therefore, even if the war in Ukraine ended tomorrow, the financial impact of the war in the U.S. budget could last long after the cessation of hostilities.

Vance’s bill would also require the administration to compare U.S. aid to Ukraine with allied partners in dollar figures and specific materials, including “a detailed list of all weapons and weapon systems sent to Ukraine” by country.

The legislation would also force the Biden administration to provide legislators with the specific authorities used for the dispensation of Ukraine aid, and to which countries the aid has actually gone to. In some of its previous communication with Congress, the Biden administration has not specified which countries it considers “impacted by the situation in Ukraine” and are thus eligible for aid.

For the first time since the war began, the administration would be compelled to show that the war in Ukraine is worth its weight in gold.

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